A random collection of things that inspire, interest and trouble me
from the world of design, politics, art and culture.

History of Living Newspapers

Posted: May 8th, 2009 | Author: ktcita | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

The Living Newspaper is a piece of theatre created to dramatize current events and issues and thereby make them public (Audiohistory). It is thought to have started in Italy with the publication of a Futurist Manifesto by Marinetti that proclaimed that theatre should be “born of improvisation, lightninglike intuition, from suggestive and revealing actuality. We believe that a thing is valuable to the extent that it is improvised, not extensively prepared” (Drain 1995). Interestingly within the same manifesto there is this “It’s stupid to pander to the primitivism of the crowd, which, in the last analysis, wants to see the bad guy lose and the good guy win”. So perhaps Marinetti et al did not exactly have the public in mind!

The tradition of dramatizing the news continued in Soviet Russia where a Communist Party decree brought forth public readings of the news in order to make their propaganda reached those with poor literacy (Casson). The Blue Blouses theatre group produced works in Russia from abotu 1923 to 1927 and performed to over 80,000 people in the first two months of existence (Drain).

From there the idea of the Living Newspaper spread through Germany and Austria and eventually found its way to America through Moreno who produced shows from 1931 that were impromtu dramatizations of the news events of the day. Americans who had seen the Blue Blouse Theatre founded the Federal Theatre Project in 1935: a government-funded scheme that got theatre workers back into work as part of the New Deal’s Work Projects Administration.Unlike Moreno’s work, the Federal Theatre Project pieces were scripted in advance (arendt said that this type of work could not be dashed off in a matter of hours – see Living Newspaper p113).

A communist V.J. Jerome is credited with being the first person to bring the Living Newspaper to Britain. His poem was performed by the Rebel Players in 1935, the same year that the Unity Theatre began. Their work was interesting in the way that the stage was set, at times divided into sections that almost echo the way that modern newspapers are “sectionalized” or chunked into thematic areas such as lifestyle and sport (really need to check this in Chambers see below).

India’s theatre group Jagran (awakening) produced Living Newspapers during the 1960s and 70s as a way to make poor communities more aware of their personal and social rights. They would go into a community and develop a script based on the stories of people living in slums. The topics the theatre pieces covered included indebtedness, dowry; community issues such as civic consciousness, voting rights, maintenance of community water pumps and public toilets. However, top among their priorities was promoting family planning (Democracy and Governance).

There was also a group in Peru called Boal in the late 70s.

Moreno (and others I assume) saw that the involvement of an audience would be a better means of getting an audience engaged in an issue. This is similar to the view of modern social campaigners who see that direct behavioural experience can help change people’s attitudes to a product, service or issue Direct experience (Regan & Fazio, 1977; Fazio & Zanno, 1978)

Ngapartji Ngapartji is similar in approach?

Works to read

Leach, Robert: (1994) Revolutionary Theatre. London: Routledge. (talks about Mikhail Pustynin who said that “news could be made more accessible through dramatisation”)

Bradby, David, and John McCormick (1978) People’s Theatre. London: Croom Helm.

to express in theatrical terms the subjects of the Rosta posters. Terevsat came to Moscow in 1920 and a number of groups were soon to be found performing in streets, factories and stations. Its short sketches, in which music had an important role, drew largely on review, operetta, vaudeville and the tchastuchka (rhymed popular songs with a monotonous rhythm). Initially one major aim of Terevsat was the diffusion of information and it evolved its own forms of Living Newspaper

Twentieth Century Theatre: A Sourcebook Editor : Richard Drain (can access online through the university). Good source for history of the theatre.

Chambers, Colin (1989) The Story of Unity Theatre. London: Lawrence and Wishart.

Visual Literacy bibliography

Posted: May 8th, 2009 | Author: ktcita | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: | No Comments »

Visual Rhetoric

Knowledge through engagement

Posted: May 8th, 2009 | Author: ktcita | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , | No Comments »

The Tactic of Tracing Design Issues: Volume 25, Number 1 Winter 2009

As a tactic, tracing takes on dual meanings. First, tracing is a following back to what Dewey calls “the origins of an issue.” Inherent in tracing is the activity of revealing, of exposing the underlying structures, arguments, and assumptions of an issue. Second, tracing is an activity of “mark-making.” To trace is to follow and record the presence and movement of an artifact, event, or idea. Within the context of the construction of publics the tactic of tracing can be defined as the use of designerly forms to detail and communicate, and to make known, the network(s) of materials, actions, concepts, and values that shape and frame an issue over time.

Communication design, inclusive of information and graphic design, is the most immediate place for locating the tactic of tracing within established design fields. Popular authors such as Tufte and Wurman have highlighted the pervasiveness of communication design in contemporary society; and scholars such as Buchanan, Kauffer, and Tyler have examined the rhetorical strategies and uses of communication design. The tactic of tracing builds upon these discussions and activities, adapting them toward the construction of publics and, in the process, opening them to new contexts and effects. More specifically, the tactic of tracing is characterized by the use of designerly forms to creatively express the histories, discourses, and techniques that constitute an issue; in ways that foster knowledge through engagement. Increasingly, these forms reach beyond the common artifacts of communication design. In this way, tracing both connects with and extends contemporary design, particularly the areas of participatory and service-oriented practices that embrace forms of engagement and exchange beyond the traditional object.

The project Zapped by the collective Preemptive Media is a striking example of the tactic of projection. In part, it is striking because it exemplifies the ways design tactics are being used effectively, even furthered, outside of what we might commonly think of as a design project, thus reinforcing the notion of a tactic as an adjustment to, appropriation, or manipulation of design products and processes. As a collective, Preemptive Media is more aligned with art than design. However, the work of Preemptive Media demonstrates the blurring of contemporary practices between art and design, particularly in the context of socially-engaged work. This blurring results in a productive confusion between art and design in that it makes it easier to exchange forms, methods, and effects. Such exchanges are particularly fruitful to design, because arts practices and discourse have made much more significant inroads into the issues and sites of the public over the past several decades than has been witnessed within design.

…But in a more nuanced fashion, we can consider them [design tactics] designerly because they make an issue known by making it experientially accessible (K: particularly the case for the Living Newspapers)

…Given that tactics are designerly means for the identification and articulation of issues; such that they might be known enough to enable a public to form around them; a central concern is to discover what forms of expression are most appropriate and compelling for the those people and institutions the tactic is intended to communicate with.

Suggestions for study:“How and how well are designerly forms employed to make known the network of histories, discourses(s), and techniques that shape and frame an issue over time?” and “Were structures, arguments, and assumptions of a given issue newly revealed and made more accessible?” Beyond review and appraisal of individual projects, answering the question of “How” would reveal shared rhetorical devices and themes employed toward the construction of publics, which could be further critiqued and assessed across projects and subject matter.

Another course of assessment would be to ask if the form of expression was appropriate to the audience.

Assessing the effect of design tactics is particularly important in determining what “works” and what counts as “working” (i.e., how do we know that a specific intervention or engagement has had an effect, or what effect it has had).

Current Living Newspaper theatre projects

Posted: May 8th, 2009 | Author: ktcita | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

C&T Theatre projects:

The Living Newspaper: Re-inventing documentary drama in the age of YouTube, C&T’s own brand of Living Newspapers turn your students into Citizen Journalists researching, reflecting and articulating their responses to the changing world of which they are a part.

St Bride’s Printing Library did a Living Newspaper project in 2008

Design in the information age

Posted: April 23rd, 2009 | Author: ktcita | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

Charles L. Owen Design Education in the Information Age. Quoted in Redefining Design: From form to Experience C Thomas Mitchell. p2.

It is now frequently possible to produce profitably in extremely small lots – even lots of 1!

The impact of this on design will be revolutionary. Among other things, it will mean substitution for the design of single products, the design of rule systems for families of products. Within this concept, products can be individually tailored in the production process, to the needs of purchasers. The conversion of the design process from the design of individual products to the design of rule systems for product classes will allow this individualization to take place while remaining within the intent and control of the designer. The design technology to make this possible is among the highest priorities for design research and will distinguish design in the information age.

Mapping the Energy Usage Distribution in New Zealand

Posted: April 9th, 2009 | Author: ktcita | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , | No Comments »

As one of the very few examples of government organizations being interested in involving the general public in data, the aim of Energy in NZ [neri.org.nz] was to map energy usage data within New Zealand in a simple, engaging and interactive way. The data was gathered with the help of the National Energy Research Institute of New Zealand, and based on a “database of figures and a poorly plotted, very very confusing graph of flows”. Read the rest of this entry »

The Communication-Persuasion Matrix

Posted: April 9th, 2009 | Author: ktcita | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , | No Comments »

The Communication-Persuasion Matrix: Input communication variables and output mediational steps that comprose the process of being persuaded

From McGuire (1989) A mediational theory of suscepibility to social influence.


  1. Source (number, unanimity, demographics, attractiveness, credibility, etc)
  2. Message (appeal, inclusion/omission, organization, style, repetitiveness, etc)
  3. Channel (modality, directness, context, etc)
  4. Receiver (demographics, ability, personality, lifestyle, etc)
  5. Destination (immediacy/delay, prevention/cessation, direct/immunization, etc)

OUTPUT PERSUASION STEPS (typically occur sequentially)

  1. Tuning in (exposure to the communication)
  2. Attending to the communication
  3. Liking it, maintaining interest in it
  4. Comprehending its contents (learning what)
  5. Generating related cognitions
  6. Acquiring relevant skills (learning how)
  7. Agreeing with the communicator’s position (attitude change)
  8. Storing this new position in memory
  9. Retrieval of the new position from memory when relevant
  10. Decision to act on the basis of the retrieved position
  11. Acting on it
  12. Post-action cognitive integration of this behavior
  13. Proselytizing others to behave likewise

McGuire says that this is overly simplistic and in fact, multiple paths exist in the process. Sequentiality is not guaranteed. People might jump from say number 7 to number 11 (“when people form their attitudes to justify their behavior”). See also the Health Belief Model.

Social media activism

Posted: April 8th, 2009 | Author: ktcita | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

How charities are using social media. A small list. And an even bigger list of books to read.

How to engage the public in efforts to combat climate change

Posted: April 8th, 2009 | Author: ktcita | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

Notes from a report Polar bears and energy-efficient lightbulbs: strategies to bring climate change home by Rachel Slocum.

Polar bears and light globes have been used as metaphors that are appropriate to a local group. Giddens would say (if I could find the reference) that using polar bears as a global referent is misleading as it is not immediately apparent in the person’s local domain. Yes, if you live in Canada, less so if you live in Australia. The question is, what metaphors are most appropriate to bring the message home to a particular audience? And is the use of these metaphors more beneficial than bamboozling people with climate science?

Engaging the public on climate change is especially difficult because global climate change is perceived as spatially and temporally distant.

There is a problem with engaging people on a local issue with a global or future outlook as people find it difficult to understand their place in the problem.

Read the rest of this entry »

Purchasing of certified products

Posted: April 8th, 2009 | Author: ktcita | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , | No Comments »

In a 2007 DEFRA survey, 8 out of 10 people had awareness of the Fair Trade range of products. They were only told the name, not shown the label. I wonder what the recollection would be like if they were shown the label?

The report can be downloaded here

Other results are

  • 34 per cent had heard of timber products certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council or timber from sustainable sources;
  • 21 per cent had heard of fish certified by the Marine Stewardship Council or fish from sustainable sources;
  • 16 per cent had heard of Red Tractor meat12;
  • 15 per cent had heard of Freedom food;
  • Four per cent had heard of LEAF Marque Food.

Above average levels of awareness were consistently shown by people in the higher social grades (and correspondingly, those with higher incomes and broadsheet newspaper readers).

45% of people who had heard of Fair Trade had bought products from that range. Other ranges had lesser results.

As well as being more likely to be aware of these products, those in higher social grades were also more likely to say they made an effort to purchase them.